UNSAVORY DISH

SLICING UP THE PORK: That's how one congressional staffer referred to the so- called demonstration projects that have become a bone of contention between the White House and Capitol Hill over passage of the multibillion-dollar highway and mass transit bill.

The other barrier to the bill's passage, a difference of opinion between the House and the Senate over lifting from 55 mph to 65 mph the speed limit on rural interstate highways, seems to have been lifted. House and Senate conferees agreed to consider the matter separately from the rest of the bill. If the House approves the speed limit increase, already okayed by the Senate, it will become part of the final bill. If it does not, the Senate will drop it

from its version.Demonstration projects are supposed to enhance safety, traffic flow or economic development. An example is one at New Sewickly, Pa., to demonstrate ''methods of accommodating increasing truck traffic and improving highway safety." Whatever the ostensible justification, the money is to be spent in the district of Democratic Rep. Joe Kolter, who just happens to be a member of the Public Works Committee, the outfit that wrote the highway bill.

It's pork all right, and President Reagan has vowed to squeeze all such fat out of the budget. But those wily congressmen have come up with a scheme to halve his displeasure. Instead of the $178 million to be spent for such projects over the next five years being exempt from the highway spending ceiling, only 50 percent will be outside the ceiling. Of the remainder, 30 percent will be within the ceiling and 20 percent will come from state matching funds.

What is 50 percent pork? Baloney.

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